My ‘What’s in my Backpack‘ page is amazingly one of the most viewed things on Journey Count, which I guess means that we have a lot of nosy readers! I totally get it though, as I love looking at what people deem important enough to haul half way across the world and how people dress while travelling.
So, you have my typical backpacking packing list but I thought it was high time that I wrote about what I brought to Korea with me. Below you’ll find a list of exactly what I brought and whether or not it has been appropriate over the last 6 months. I have also added in what I have bought while I’ve been here, including the reasons behind my purchases. No matter how much I want to frivolously spend my Korean paycheck on all the awesome clothes here in Korea (the shops are great), I have thankfully not cast away the traveller mind set of ‘do I really need it?/ will that really be useful when I have to carry it on my back?’. So everything I have bought was, usually, well thought out or needed.
Long skirt- I bought a second skirt for work as it was cheap and allows me to not do washing as often!
Black trousers- These are extremely tight and started making me feel a little uncomfortable at school, so I replaced them with a pair of smart leggings.
6 shirts- I have since added two more collared shirts as I wear these constantly to work. A shirt under a cosy jumper is my winter work wardrobe staple.
1 waistcoat cardigan
- Lower half
2 pairs of jeans- At my elementary school I can wear jeans to work, although I try and make my top half smarter so that I still feel professional!
2 pairs of leggings- I lost one pair in the Philippines and will probably replace them soon. For Winter I bought a thermal pair.
1 pair of slouchy trousers- I could not resist buying a second pair in a cheap market in Seoul. They are actually smart enough to wear with a shirt to work so it was a win-win really.
1 maxi skirt
2 shorter skirts- although Koreans cover up on top, they are definitely not shy about getting their legs out, so I actually wear these to work.
2 pairs of shorts
- Upper half
4 long sleeved tops- these are so necessary for layering up in winter! For extra warmth I now have a thermal one too.
6 strap tops- I use these mostly for layering and under sheer shirts, as Koreans rarely (if ever) show their shoulders.
2 checked shirts
7 other tops (many cropped) and t-shirts- For my fellow crop-top lovers, as long as your bottom half is high-waisted enough, cropped tops are perfectly acceptable here.
1 hoody- Oli’s mum kindly bought me another fluffy one from Uniqlo to see me through winter!
4 warm jumpers- Extra ‘knits’, as Koreans call them, have been my biggest splurge as it really does get cold! I have 4 new ones which I layer with thermals, long-sleeved tops and shirts for the classroom!
1 strappy dress- only suitable paired with a t-shirt considering Korea’s aversion to boobs and decollage, but I wore it constantly in the Philippines.
1 midi dress
Plus 1 cutesy collared dress that I justified buying as it was fleece lined! Seriously, don’t underestimate the cold.
Pumps- Ruined by the rain and not yet replaced.
2 pairs of smart shoes- In Korea people change into ‘inside shoes’ when inside, so going out of my way to get these before I came was totally unnecessary! Now I wear my trainers to school and then change into the $3 sandals (in summer) or $10 fluffy slippers (in winter) that I bought here.
I also bought a pair of smarter sandals in summer and then a pair of awesome Nike hiking boots when it stated snowing.
1 sheepskin jacket- Korean winter lifesaver!
1 ski jacket
During the transitional weather of October and November I bought another jacket which has seen me through the cold if paired with enough layers.
4 scarfs- Plus an extra big one for winter.
2 hats- Plus earmuffs I bought when Oli and I went to high 1 ski resort.
1 pair of gloves
2 bikinis- plus a full swimsuit that I bought to go to our local swimming pool.
3 shoulder bags- I bought a cheap backpack when my work bag broke.
Wow. For consciously trying to not buy much, I really bought a lot!! As you can see, most of my spending has been due to the sub-zero temperatures of Winter, which you should remember if you are planning to move here or visit during December and January especially.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone about to leave for Korea to start their teaching career, or simply entertaining for you nosy parkers out there. If you have any helpful packing tips for Korea, or anywhere, leave them in the comments below!
Looking for more travel tips and expat advice? Subscribe to our newsletter below: